The prisoner who built a piano from cardboard boxes

The prisoner who built a piano from cardboard boxes


norman lebrecht

January 02, 2017

There is an utterly inspirational story on the New Yorker site about a longterm prisoner who set about learning to play the piano. Read it here.

It will start your year on the right note.

Here goes:

On my bottom bunk bed, I sat in deep thought. I had an unusual problem. The prison choir that I sang in needed a piano player, and they needed one quickly. I thought to myself, How could I teach myself to play? I had no prior experience with the piano, but I can still remember running down the hallways of my grandmother’s house as a boy. Every time I ran past her old upright piano, I would slam all the keys at the same time. Sometimes in the mornings before school, as I listened to cassette tapes of my favorite R. & B. and gospel songs by Mary J. Blige and John P. Kee, I imagined myself playing the piano. I sang in the church choir from the age of seven on. In the sixth grade, I learned to play the xylophone. I had an uncle who played piano professionally at Las Vegas casinos and on cruise ships. When he came to visit, I sat in awe as he played our upright. Music has been my constant companion. It’s like my DNA has tiny quarter notes infused into it….